January 13, 2016 – Sun, 60 degrees
Miles Today: 38
Miles to Date: 10,218
States to Date: 26
Today was the ultimate demonstration of my route’s inefficiency. I spun a complete U-turn and ended up exactly where I began yesterday. Fourth graders west of Phoenix wanted to talk with me on Tuesday. College professors at Arizona State invited me on Wednesday. I pedal where my question takes me.
Arizonans do not reset their clocks. The state is on Pacific Standard Time in the summer and Mountain Standard Time in the winter. That means January mornings are dark. Given the desert, they’re also cold. I headed out of Goodyear at first light, which is not until 7:00 a.m. Frost glistened on car windshields. I coffeed up at Circle K; they are ubiquitous here. I rolled toward the sun, warmer with every breath.
The affluent cities surrounding Phoenix have wide, straight roads lined with eight foot high masonry walls that hide tawny stucco houses with red tile roofs spun along curlicue streets. The main arteries are monotonous. I prefer Phoenix proper, which includes most of the distance from Goodyear to Tempe. Poorer neighborhoods are more interesting. Houses are less precious, tchotchke’s hang all over them. More dogs chase me in barrios, but most are small. Little Napoleons run after me for half a block, though they can’t even reach my heel.
I travelled through the city’s bowels. On Lower Buckeye Road, the county prison is across from the dump, which is next to the wastewater treatment plant, an industrial area, scrap yards, and the bus terminus, where the striking drivers were picketing in force. A pungent no-man’s land.
I knew Arizona State University as the nation’s foremost online college educator. Along my journey, several people suggested it’s in the forefront of other educational innovations, so I was pleased when several ASU faculty and staff agreed to talk with me about tomorrow. A university with a School of Sustainability, a School of Public Service and Community Solutions, and a School of the Future of Innovation in Society has got tomorrow on its mind.
I had fascinating discussions with a variety of folks there (profiles to come!) but was so dazed after my last interview, I camped out in the Student Union to organize my notes. Luck led me the Changemaker Central, a student run lounge dedicated to service opportunities: Teach for America, Peace Corps, and the like; a welcome complement to the Armed Services Recruitment Centers on many campuses.
I stayed with a cool group of undergraduates in a splashy student apartment: four-bedrooms, two baths, sunset views and a pool. No matter that I was three times their age, we did what college students everywhere do: stayed up too late talking about everything.